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Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

The damaged denizens of Sin City return for another round of stories from the mind of Frank Miller. In ``Just Another Saturday Night,'' Marv (Mickey Rourke) struggles to recall a nasty run-in with some frat boys. In ``A Dame to Kill For,'' Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) forsakes his battle with his inner demons to help Ava Lord (Eva Green), the woman of his dreams and nightmares. In ``Nancy's Last Dance,'' Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), mad with grief and rage over Hartigan's death, vows revenge.

Genre: Action, Crime drama, Thriller
Length: 101 min.
Rating: R
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Movie Details

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Jaime King, Christopher Lloyd, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Meloni, Stacy Keach, Juno Temple, Lady Gaga, Marton Csokas
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Produced by: Robert Rodriguez, Aaron Kaufman, Stephen L'Heureux, Alexander Rodyansky, Mark Manuel
Official Site: http://sincity-2.com/

Movie Review

By Michael Phillips
Tribune Newspapers Critic
2 stars

I'm not sure what mood I'd have to be in to truly enjoy "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For." But I'm not in it.

Is it because crime scenes in Ferguson, Mo., and Chicago and the rest of the real world -- where senseless killings are supposed to matter -- are hindering my ability to kick back with some recreational slaughter? Maybe.

On the other hand, millions of devotees of the 2005 "Sin City" and its halfway point between "real" and digitally illustrated sadism will be happy to revisit the outlandishly scuzzy urban hellhole of Basin City, this time in 3-D, with its crazed, revenge-fueled antiheroes and female body parts disguised as the gender formerly known as women. The real stars of the movie are Eva Green's breasts, portraying the breasts of the most vile, untrustworthy dame (the movie doesn't say "dame" though) in this dirty town. The femmes in "Sin City 2" fall into two overlapping camps: fatale or near-fatale and nude or nearly.

Some movies purport to honor a tradition, a style -- in this instance film noir, which is less a genre than a justifiably paranoid state of mind -- while reducing its storytelling elements to the crudest possible level. This is where Frank Miller comes in. First introduced by graphic artist and writer Miller in 1991, "Sin City" on the page was made of the movies and for the movies. The film co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez rendered the excessive gore and bloodletting in a graphic-novelly way, with the actors acting entirely against green screens. The look was slavishly faithful to Miller's illustrations, with the various gushes and spurts of blood using a novel color scheme (the blood was white), taking the unpleasantness out of the 12th or 13th throat-slitting.

The same directors reunite for "Sin City 2," gathering up actors and characters from the first picture, among them Mickey Rourke (as Marv, the vigilante protector whose face looks like a fiord); Jessica Alba as the zoned-out stripper with a newly vicious outlook on life; Bruce Willis, now so visibly bored I swear you can hear him muttering, "Man, am I bored," as the ghost of her savior; and Rosario Dawson, as the queen of the Old Town prostitutes, who lick their lips and open fire.

And that, folks, is "Sin City 2." Amid the climactic slaughter waged by Rourke and Alba, the bloodthirsty exotic dancer proves she can kill at point-blank range, and seconds later Rourke seethes, "I think you're hot." The moment is a joke, or supposed to be.

Now and then the right actors in "Sin City 2" lighten the load a little, as when Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as an unlucky gambler) visits a heroin-addicted back-alley doctor (Christopher Lloyd) to remove a bullet from his leg and re-break his broken fingers. It's the usual ick-gross-blech humor, but the pacing and the delivery in this brief segment outshine the rest of the picture. I did like the use of 3-D in the poker game sequences, with Powers Boothe (as the senator whose venality know no bounds) sitting at one end of the table, fronted by towers of coins resembling little Towers of Babel.

If Rodriguez had any selectivity as an action director and a purveyor of garish thrills, the violence might have an impact beyond benumbing the spectator. "Sin City 2" keeps piling on, flipping the visual pages and selling the same ancient lessons in misogyny that real noir, or neo-noir, exploited yet transcended.

Film noir never trusted women; it's a world dominated by men who are dominated by fate, circumstance, their own weaknesses. Miller revels in this world, but amping up the grim salaciousness leads to all sorts of internal competition among the storylines. There's nobody in the sequel who brings the sly wit Carla Gugino did in the first.

For some of us, at least, it feels like time to explore a different region of Miller's fantasies -- a suburb 20 minutes outside Sin City, for example, where eye-gougings are something the characters go to the movies for or daydream about while in the checkout line at Target.

MPAA rating: R (for strong brutal stylized violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and brief drug use)

Running time: 1:42.

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